Hong Kong Security Police Threaten London-Based Rights Group, Order Website Takedown — Radio Free Asia

The UK attacked authorities in China and Hong Kong on Monday after pressuring a London-based rights group to take down its website, threatening legal action under an applicable draconian national security law. around the world.

Hong Kong National Security Police have written to Benedict Rogers, CEO of Hong Kong Watch, ordering him to take down the group’s website, which recently criticized the Hong Kong government’s handling of a wave of COVID- 19 soaring through the city.

“You and Hong Kong Watch are obligated to remove the website … without delay and immediately cease engaging in any act and activity contrary to the National Security Act or any other law of Hong Kong,” the letter said. the police. “If you fail to do so, further actions will be brought against you and Hong Kong Watch without further notice.”

The group has been highly critical of the rights record of the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in Hong Kong, particularly following a citywide crackdown on pro-democracy activists, opposition politicians and journalists after the national security law was imposed on the city. from July 1, 2020.

UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said the letter was clearly an attempt at intimidation.

“The unjustifiable action taken against the UK-based NGO Hong Kong Watch is clearly an attempt to silence those who defend human rights in Hong Kong,” Truss said in a statement on Monday.

“The Chinese government and Hong Kong authorities must uphold the universal right to freedom of expression and uphold that right in Hong Kong in accordance with international commitments, including the joint statement,” she said, referring to the United Nations registration treaty governing the return of Hong Kong to Chinese rule in 1997.

“Trying to silence the global voices that stand for freedom and democracy is unacceptable and will never succeed,” she said.

The police letter also accused Rogers of “colluding with a foreign power” under Section 29 of the law, saying he lobbied for sanctions against Hong Kong, thereby interfering in Hong Kong’s internal affairs. China and harming its national security.

“Whoever commits the offense shall be liable to imprisonment for at least 3 years [with a maximum penalty of] life in prison,” says the letter, which confirms that the Hong Kong Watch website is currently blocked by Hong Kong authorities.

The UK suspended its extradition treaty with Hong Kong after the national security law came into force.

“Extraterritoriality” clause

Hong Kong Watch said the group was one of the first foreign organizations targeted by the law.

The group’s sponsor, Lord Patten of Barnes, Hong Kong’s last colonial governor, said Chinese and Hong Kong officials “are not only trying to eradicate freedom of expression and information in Hong Kong, but also to internationalize their campaign against evidence, freedom and honesty”. “

Lord Alton of Liverpool, who was sanctioned by China last year, said the letter was a significant escalation by the Chinese government.

“It signifies the attempt to enforce the odious ‘extraterritoriality’ clause of the draconian national security law that Beijing has imposed on Hong Kong,” he said.

“The result of this appalling law is the utter destruction of Hong Kong’s freedoms and autonomy, and now the regime is using this law to try to undermine freedom around the world. It is…a shocking attempt to intimidate and threaten an organization that has been at the forefront of global advocacy for Hong Kong.”

Rogers, who was turned away by Hong Kong immigration officials at the city’s international airport when he last attempted to travel five years ago, said the group would not be silenced by such threat.

“We will not be silenced by an authoritarian security apparatus which, through a mixture of senseless brutality and ineptitude, has triggered rapid mass migration out of the city and crippled civil society,” he said. declared. “We will continue to be a voice for the people of Hong Kong and those brave political prisoners who have been imprisoned under this authoritarian regime.”

He said it was ironic that many Hong Kong police and government officials still hold foreign passports, send their children to study in the West and have their savings held in Western banks overseas to avoid campaigns. anti-corruption Xi Jinping.

Voices silenced

Pro-democracy activist Joey Siu, who advises Hong Kong Watch, said many dissenting voices had already been silenced in Hong Kong itself.

“The Hong Kong government has used the national security law to disband various civic groups and arrest most pan-democrats over the past few months,” Siu told RFA. “They want to prevent them from making Hong Kong’s voice heard in the international arena and alleviate the concerns of the international community over the human rights situation. [in the city].”

“The national security law can be applied to anyone, anywhere in the world, foreigners transiting through Hong Kong, as well as permanent residents and Chinese nationals,” she said.

Attempts to load the Hong Kong Watch website from Hong Kong on Monday resulted in a notice saying “unable to connect to this site”, with the site only accessible via VPN.

An official who answered the phone to Hong Kong police declined to comment on “individual cases” when contacted by RFA on Monday.

Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

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